Early-warning signals for Critical Transitions

Complex dynamical systems, ranging from ecosystems to financial markets and the climate, can have tipping points at which a sudden shift to a contrasting dynamical regime may occur. Although predicting such critical points before they are reached is extremely difficult, work in different scientific fields is now suggesting the existence of generic early-warning signals that may indicate for a wide class of systems if a critical threshold is approaching.

It is becoming increasingly clear that many complex systems have critical thresholds — so-called tipping points — at which the system shifts abruptly from one state to another. In medicine, we have spontaneous systemic failures such as asthma attacks or epileptic seizures; in global finance, there is concern about systemic market crashes; in the Earth system, abrupt shifts in ocean circulation or climate may occur; and catastrophic shifts in rangelands, fish populations or wildlife populations may threaten ecosystem services.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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